July 29th, 2010
11:53 AM ET

Sherrod to sue blogger who released video clip

Former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she will pursue a lawsuit against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart - the man responsible for posting an edited video clip of Sherrod appearing to say she discriminated against a white farmer looking for assistance.

"I will definitely do it," she said when asked whether she was considering legal action. Sherrod made her remarks during an appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in San Diego.

Breitbart "had to know that he was targeting me," Sherrod said. "At this point, he hasn't apologized. I don't want it at this point, and he'll definitely hear from me."

The controversy surrounding the clip led to a rush to judgment and Sherrod's forced resignation. However, it was later determined that her speech, unedited, focused on how the incident changed her outlook and made her realize people should move beyond race. The incident occurred 24 years ago, before Sherrod began working for the USDA.

She received an official apology from the USDA and a phone call from President Barack Obama once the full text of her remarks came to light.

Sherrod has since been offered another position at the Agriculture Department.

Obama said earlier Thursday that Sherrod "deserves better than what happened last week." Speaking at a National Urban League conference in Washington, Obama called the claim of racism against her "bogus."

"Many are to blame" for the reaction that followed, he said, "including my own administration."

Her whole story, Obama said he told Sherrod, "is exactly the kind of story we need to hear in America (because) we all have our biases."


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Filed under: Civil Rights
soundoff (420 Responses)
  1. kMAN

    Big question since she is being pushed to sue everybody, what about the government for wrongful dismissal?

    July 29, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Stephen

    Don't confuse 'em with the facts Joe...they've already made up their minds. They're about to go ghetto on us!

    July 29, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. p53

    @jsm: What rock did you crawl from under??!! The United States of America that I live in, has laws in place for libel, irreparrable harm, slander, making false accusations, etc. Typical ignorant conservative propaganda to state no such laws exist in America.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. andy c

    When you have a civil suite against a person for personal loss due to a false portrayal of an individual intent. Then that is what this case will likely end up with a question before the judge and or jury. Was the INTENT of Brietbart

    July 29, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. js007

    Good for her! Hatchet men like Breitbart need to be taught a lesson – I hope the court awards her all the money he made by demonizing innocent people. I'm just waiting for someone to sue or investigate Bill O'Reilly for inciting the death of Dr. Tiller.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. john

    Did anyone notice that, according to published reports, when Obama was talking about this on the view he couldn't bring himself to say that HE had done anything wrong? He said that even some in his administration had done wrong, but never used the word "I". Can anyone name a time when Obama has said "I was wrong."? I just wonder because I remember hearing that Bush would never admit that he was wrong, and for him that was considered a character flaw and somehow newsworthy. Just sayin'.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brian

    "Well there is a plethora of evidence out there and yes, the most is posted by left wing media or individuals, but that doesn't diminish the truth behind them."....

    What you call "left wing" would be considered pragmatic moderate by most people in the world. America is so twisted to the right that anything normal or good is considered "left wing." The health insurance debate is a good example of this. As soon as you propose doing anything about our health care mess the rednecks start foaming at the mouth and screaming SOCIALISM!, SOCIALISM!"

    July 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Lubeck

      Also, VERY well said.

      July 29, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mattmattmchugh

    I don't think she has much of a case (he didn't edit the video... just extracted a sound bite), but depending on how he obtained the video and if she can prove malice (she'd have to prove he fully knew he was mis-representing and had intent to cause her harm... which is pretty difficult, but not impossible), she might stand a chance. Either way, the idea that bloggers and others who post things on the web can be held to the same libel standards as journalists is a big deal.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chuck in Jasper Ga

    As previuosly posted ... Wow.. sure are a lot of Attorneys posting today. Ok, I jest, people that think they are. The courts would have a little to say about who or what she can sue for damages, to include Faux News (the Fantasy Channel). I don't hold a lot of stock in what people with little if any intellect have to say. Simply because some people claim Faux did not do this, or Faux did do this, does not mean a hell of a lot. Most of you are expressing an opinion which has little to do with law or facts. The courts will decide, not a bunch of outhouse lawyers posting on CNN.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Lubeck

      Well said.

      July 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Middleman

    I'm not convinced. If a person has EVER had any racist opinions, then they SHOULD NOT HOLD A GOV'T JOB.

    Sherrod definitely had a racist outlook sometime previous to working for the USDA. She stated that the white farmer should go to "his own kind" for help and that she shouldn't have had to help white farmers because she thought that she should only help minorites. Those are racist points of view.

    And regardless of whether she says she doesn't have racist feelings anymore. SHE HAD THEM PREVIOUSLY.
    Could have just as easily been hiding her real racist feelings just to get the USDA job.

    I rule on the side of being careful.
    It is too risky to hire someone into Gov't whose past actions indicate that they ever were racist (especially when a white farmer killed her black father.)

    Let's be real: If some guy robs banks, then apologizes and says he's changed – Would you then hire him as a bank teller? Noooooooo. Same concept with the Sherrod issue.

    I still support the decision to ask her to resign.
    You have NO idea what true feelings that woman could be hiding in her head.
    But you have her own words that she previously supporting racist thinking.
    Case closed.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John Lubeck

    Good for her. I think what we all know is that GOP and the conservative movement of today (maybe not yesterday or in the past) is based 100% on lies, distortions and half-truths. You can tell a Republican, if they're talking they're lying.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CPC1

    She should be reinstated to the position she occupied before NAACP, USDA, and the current administration jumped/rushed to judgement over limited information. Ans she should be paid as if she had never left that position.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Middleman

    That video is DEFINITELY still proof that RACISM IS ALIVE AND WELL in the NAACP and the BLACK COMMUNITY.

    I don't care if Sherrod says her statements were viewed out of context; Sherrod made several racist statements and there is her own words as evidence that she was formerly a racist – period.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Linda

    So, she once was racist, but now she's not. Why doesn't this "story" work for white people? She and her family sued the Agriculture Dept for being discriminated against, when she herself was willing to discriminate. I guess that $300k settlement she got helped her 'grow". Regardless, her behavior, was, as she admitted, racist. If a white person had made these statements, black people would be screaming for that person to be fired, a complete review of every single case the white person worked on and the white person would never have the chance to hold a government job again. The double standard here makes me angry.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. p53

    Fox has always reported the news in a biased, untruthful manner. Fox is shabby, and has no regard for integrity, honesty, moral, and responsible journalism. Much like the people here in favor of this racist teaparty, kkk, nazis, and conservative terrorist organizations. If you people believed in rightousness, you would end these terrible stains on the American people. Instead, when racists rear their ugly heads, you defend them in the name of "free speech"... That is, unless its the 2 members of the black panthers. Grow up, and take responsibility for your own ignorance teaparty, conservatives, etc...

    July 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
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